Thursday, 4 June 2009

Project REVIVE : Call to Action

Many thanks to all of you for voicing your support for Project Revive - a plan to bring BBGS memories back to life at the Pavilion. This project is being spearheaded by Phang Sow Yoong (School Captain 1972). We have the privilege of hearing from her about the exciting work that she & her team have been doing. Don't miss the opportunity to meet with them on June 13 at the Pavilion to make this a reality...it's time to ACT!

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Please help us revive the Bukit Bintang Old Girls' Association. We will be discussing the scholarship fund to be set up in honour of Miss Cooke.

DATE: 13 June 2009 (Saturday)
TIME: 11am - 1pm
VENUE: Platinum Room, Level 7, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

As there are only 30 seats for this meeting, please confirm attendance by contacting Sow Yoong at syphang@gmail.com or 012 2921460. We welcome volunteers who are passionate and action-oriented.


Should BBGS be forgotten?
By Phang Sow Yoong

For years, I could never pass Jalan Bukit Bintang without feeling a stab of pain in my heart. So overwhelming was the sense of loss that I found myself suppressing memories of my alma mater - Bukit Bintang Girls' School (BBGS).

One day, I bumped into an ex-colleague who is now a director of the company that manages Pavilion, the shopping mall where BBGS once stood.

"So have you visited Pavilion?" he asked me.

"No, I still can't bring myself to go there - unless there is a BBGS museum in Pavilion!" I replied.

First time stepping in

Imagine my dilemma when we had to take a family break at the Grand Millennium Hotel next to Pavilion. I knew a visit to Pavilion was inevitable if we were to stay there. Finally, I braced myself for the defining moment when I had to step into Pavilion for the first time. There were mixed emotions as I strolled down memory lane, traversing the wide expanse of marble flooring in the ultra-modern mall.

Nostalgia

If those moments could be captured on reel, then sepia photographs of our primary school would be superimposed over the House of L'Oreal right down to the Zegna Boutique. Images of the school field would fade into the Jaguar showroom while that of canteen block would cover the concourse. Miss Cooke's office block would probably be where Canali is located.

I could almost hear the school song being played in the background while nostalgic images flashed before me: girls in green pinafores playing five stones during recess, choral speakers swaying on stage as their voices rose to a crescendo, lingering fragrance after the toilet brigade had finished their task and teenagers giggling away as they gossiped and munched kacang putih under the frangipani tree.


Aerial view of Pavilion. Can you identify the location of various BBGS blocks?
(Photo courtesy of the Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Sdn Bhd)


Why is there no reminder of BBGS?

In contrast to the affluent mall, BBGS started as a humble school that pioneered education for girls from poor families living around the area. Through a century of providing quality education, BBGS has empowered many students to become successful women both in Malaysia and abraod.

How can we allow a legendary school like BBGS to slip into oblivion or to be deleted from our memory? That's the question I kept asking myself while window shopping at Pavilion.

There was not a single reminder of our alma mater in the 'World's Best Retail Centre' that recently won the prestigious FIABCI Prix d'Excellence Award 2009!

How else would a visitor to Pavilion know that on these very premises there once stood a great institution with 107 years of history?

Reviving the BBGS spirit

I wrote an email to my classmates that got circulated around the world - thanks to Facebook and Twitter. There was an outpouring of emotions from BBGSians worldwide - all in favour of reviving the BBGS spirit!

Keen to make Pavilion the centre of reunion gatherings for BBGSians, I wrote another email to my ex-colleague who forwarded it to the Pavilion CEO.

Joanna Yeoh and Norma Sit contacted and informed me of their blogs set up in memory of BBGS. Although Joanna is on vacation in the US, she connected me with two BBGSians: Jenny Yim who runs a boutique there and Poesy Liang who frequents Pavilion for business meetings. They volunteered to meet the Pavilion management together with me.

Meeting Pavilion management

Jenny immediately arranged for an appointment with the Pavilion management on 22 May 2009. We met the CEO, Ms Joyce Yap, and her assistant, Jerrica, at Godiva Cafe.

"We accept that our school is gone. As this land holds fond memories for us, we would like to make Pavilion the centre of our alumni reunion gatherings and activities," I explained to Joyce.

"We are planning to set up a scholarship fund to honour our headmistress, Miss Cooke and we would like to hold the launching ceremony at Pavilion," I added.

Positive response

Joyce responded positively and agreed to sponsor the concourse for the launch on 4 August 2009. We might even get to put up a mobile mini exhibition in July - subject to space availability and our design submission.

We also discussed how we might place a guest book at the concierge to record the names and contact information of BBGSians who visit Pavilion.

Now ladies, you'd love this: Joyce has kindly allowed us to use the beautiful Platinum Room at Seventh Heaven - if available - for our Alumni meetings and activities. The place is reserved exclusively for ladies as it houses beauty and slimming salons.

However, Joyce was unable to accede to our request for a memorial plaque or wall poster due to management policy. Although we are disappointed, we will not give up praying for a breakthrough.

Nisi Dominus Frustra

9 comments:

The Patersons said...

I am so glad that you are doing this on behalf of all of us. I too have never been able to step foot into that mall. I look forward to reading about the developments of this iniative and will support as best I can.

Once there is a memorial of some sort, I think I will venture in, still gingerly and still with some pang but thankful for the gift of being able to honour the memory of our great school.

Michelle Low
5 Science 4 1992

SY said...

Hi Michelle,

If you are in Malaysia please come for the 13 June meeting to discuss plans to revive our alumni and to plan for the launching of the scholarship fund. Thanks for your encouragement.

Sowyoong

Jessie said...

Same here. For as long as I was working in the KL "golden triangle", I could not bring myself to use the road. And believe it or not, I've only visited the mall once. Just so much memories lingering there...

Yes, thanx for leading the way, Sow Yoong. God bless!

Jessie Choo
Class of 5A4 1986

SY said...

Hi Jessie, hope to see you at the 13 June meeting. We have to stop grieving and start doing something positive. Please let spread the word to other BBGSians. Thanks. SY

The Patersons said...

Hi Sow Yoong,

I would love to come but I now reside in Melbourne. However, I eagerly await any updates.

Well, one thing I can do is to submit to Project Kindle so I'll do that.

God bless!
Michelle

Anonymous said...

can sbu ppl come

SY said...

Hi Anonymous,

Please come. The Platinum Room only admits ladies but we can arrange for a special meeting with the SBU boys over lunch. We encourage SBU girls to join us at the Platinum Room. Sorry we are not being sexist but that's the policy of the Pavilion management.

However, the special scholarship launch to be held at the concourse on 4 August is open to everyone. Please make sure you are there. Please call me at 012-292 1460 so that we can work out something.

Sowyoong

farah said...

i still can't bring myself to set foot into pavillion - to painful. It's like blesphemy. I still keep thinking why couldn't they just keep the facade of office block and prouse wing? they could make it a row of cafes - dining al-fresco. Oh well, what's done is done.

Like Michelle, maybe with a memorial of some sort - i MAY venture in...just maybe...

Let me know what areas need assistance and i'll be glad to help in any way i can - specially write-ups. Fond memories, i definitely have plenty of which I'd gladly put on paper, if needed.

Farah
5 Science 3 1985

SY said...

Hi Farah,

Please come and join us for the meeting on 13 June. Would love to hear your ideas. Can you contact me at syphang@gmail.com or 012-292 1460. Sowyoong